A FEW years ago I remember turning on the TV to see footage of a journey along a canal.

It wasn’t narrated by Timothy West and Prunella Scales - this time there was no commentary and no background music, nothing other than the sound of passing boats, dogs barking and birdsong.

“This is strange,” I remember thinking. Yet it was oddly mesmerising, and hugely relaxing. I dragged my husband in to watch and he too fell under its spell.

The two-hour BBC show was what you call ‘slow TV’, a term used for coverage of an ordinary event in its entirity. Its name is derived from the length of the broadcast and the natural slow pace of its progress.

Filmed in real time with a camera strapped to the front of the barge on the Kennet and Avon Canal, it was an unlikely hit with viewers.

It brought peace to our living room. Too many programmes - no matter what the subject - have overbearing music, irritating commentary, or annoyingly jump from one thing to another. It was nice to watch the canal, and nothing else.

In this fast-paced world, anything in the slow lane takes some getting used to, even on TV. Most nights I switch on and flick a deluge of car chases, bailiffs bashing on doors, contestants shrieking on quiz shows, sirens wailing, politicians arguing and couples twirling about to loud music. We are overloaded with fast-moving images and noise. There’s really no such thing as relaxing in front of the telly.

That’s what’s wonderful about slow TV. There’s so little to it, it helps you unwind. Since the canal trip I have tuned in to other slow TV programmes, including a reindeer sleigh trip across the Arctic. Two blissful hours of hooves crunching and occasional cow bells jangling in a snow-covered wilderness. It was wonderful.

Then there was the captivating real time journey along the Great Wall of China. Coupled with a bottle of wine, it was sheer bliss.

The first slow TV programme, broadcast in 2009, featured a seven-hour train journey through Norwegian mountains, forests and lakes.

It was followed in 2011 by a film of a 134-hour Norwegian Coastal Express boat service between Bergen and Kirkenes.

It had 2.5 million viewers: half the Norwegian population. I’m all for life in the slow lane, but I doubt that even I could stomach that. Maybe there’s not much else to do in Norway. I may order the DVD for my husband’s Christmas stocking.

Now ‘slow radio’ is here. Recordings from a three hour Arctic Circle walk will hit Radio 3 this Christmas. Billed as ‘a magical antidote to our hectic lives’ and listeners need ‘time’ and ‘quiet - ‘or a good pair of headphones’ - to appreciate it. For me, with persistent tinnitus, it wouldn’t work, but I like the idea.

As a society we live fast, but many of us want to slow down.

It’s interesting that in the early fifties, when the pace of life was a lot slower, people wanted to speed up. It was then that a short film, London to Brighton in Four Minutes, showing a speeded-up train journey from the capital to the south coast caught the public’s attention. Now we want to press the pause button.

Not surprisingly, Slow TV took a while to make its mark in America. In 2015 Slow Road Live, a serene 12-hour road trip was screened. It was broadcast on one of the most frenetic days of the year, Black Friday.

It would be nice to think that half the population of the US stayed away from the Walmart sale to watch. But somehow I don’t think they did.